From the moment your 90-pound CubePro arrives on a wood pallet via a freight truck, you’ll know this is not your average home printer. 3D Systems has created a machine for both the serious printing aficionado and companies who are looking for a more robust and professionally built printer.
Multiple Extruders, Multiple Chipped Materials
Single, double (Duo), or triple (Trio) extruder models are available, but each additional extruder diminishes the build area (single extruder build width of 285mm, triple 200mm). These multiple extruders deliver multiple materials. 3D Systems ships cartridges of ABS, PLA, and nylon for the CubePro. The embedded microchips tell the machine what color and material is loaded and how much is left, but also prevent the use of nonofficial filaments.
Heated Build Chamber
Desktop 3D printers use heated build platforms to prevent ABS prints from curling and warping off the build surfaces. However, exposed print areas are susceptible to drafts causing uneven cooling and cracking. The CubePro uses the same heated, enclosed design employed by high-end professional machines to prevent this.
Although the CubePro software is easy to use, it has some severe limitations. Print options are constrained to three levels of print quality and infill. Provided estimates are often far off from the actual print times. The greatest discrepancy I encountered was an estimate of 45 minutes that resulted in a 2 hour and 30 minute print.
With PLA prints, high print temperatures (uncontrollable by the user) cause anything close to an overhang to droop. Our bridging test failed on all levels. Rounded- or sloped-top prints looked very nice, but prints with large, flat surface tops showed signs of over extruding or bed-height issues. However, I’ve been a CubePro beta tester and seen the print quality continually improve over time through software updates.
The CubePro would sit nicely in an office beside the company’s large copy/scan/print appliance, where changing the filament cartridges would be akin to changing the toner cartridge. However, most home users will have a hard time finding space for it or needing quite as much machine as the CubePro provides.